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Septic to Sewer: Miami-Dade County Continues to Lead Resilience Projects Aimed at Curbing Impacts of Sea-Level Rise and Improving Communities

Publication
March 31, 2022
Earlier this year, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava launched Connect 2 Protect, a multi-year initiative which aims to convert over 100,000 properties from septic systems to the County’s sewer system. This roughly $4 billion effort reaffirms the County’s commitment to providing practical solutions to the growing list of issues posed by rising sea levels, and will further the goals set forth in the County’s Climate Action Strategy. For a concise overview of the Strategy, see our earlier post.

The County estimates that over 9,000 septic tanks are at risk of failing, a figure that is only projected to climb as sea levels continue to rise. Failing septic systems release bacteria, viruses, and chemicals that harm residents and local ecosystems. Miami-Dade County officials estimate that as many as 13,500 septic tanks will be identified as “at risk” by 2040. 

Currently, the County is prioritizing transitioning properties with the highest likelihood of failure and thus the greatest potential to pose a risk to the community at large. Because the majority of commercial properties are now connected to the public utility systems, the County will focus its efforts primarily on supporting homeowners throughout the transition process. One mechanism, through which the County is assisting homeowners carry the financial burden of these connectivity efforts, is a set of new economic ranking criteria to determine need and identify funding sources. The first phase of this effort—made possible by grant funds from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”)—will center on the Little River community, beginning along Northeast 87th Street and Northeast Bayshore Drive. If all goes according to the County’s plan, this conversion project will provide lasting benefits to the local community, positively impacting the quality of life for Miami-Dade County residents and visitors alike. 

Connect 2 Protect is an important step in the County’s plan to upgrade local infrastructure as sea levels rise and extreme weather events increase in number and severity. Miami-Dade County’s collaboration with DEP is one of a number of initiatives that will affect the local real estate market and regional growth. As the County continues to implement innovative efforts aimed at climate resilience and aligned with the Climate Action Strategy, we will share relevant updates. 
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